Brilliant Kids

Brilliant Kids

by Jonathan Holden

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dealing out predictable characters and plot in this readable but slightly didactic first novel, poet Holden ( Against Paradise ) has produced a provocative but ultimately over-orchestrated narrative. falls short of the standards set in The Automotive History of Lucky Kellerman. The year is 1959, and the narrator, Tom Jenkins, is a cynical bridge hustler who has fled New Jersey to escape a bad poker debt. In the small western New York town of Powawathia, he teams up with an equally sharp-tongued and talented bridge player, Charlotte Griller, who needs money to care for her polio-stricken brother Danny. The cast includes Dr. Norbert Bell, a Norman Vincent Peale type who really does have a positive effect on people; his daughter Linda, for whom Tom arranges an abortion; and Will Baxter, a philosophy and religion professor who undergoes an existential crisis. The action is interrupted by Tom's lengthy, tedious descriptions of various bridge hands, which cannot be skimmed since they offer insight to his character. (The only match worth noting pits Tom against hard-core cynic and famous McCarthy defender, Roy Cohn.) Dr. Bell's suggestion that Danny's iron lung is a metaphor for the constraints of life's comforts from which we must try to escape prefigures not only the change of direction at the novel's conclusion but events of the approaching decade as well. (Apr.)

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University of Utah Press
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